June 24th, 2003


The USPO gets stupider by the hour...


Short form: Netflix was issued a patent for their "no late fees, dvds by mail" business model.

I don't care how swamped down with patent applications the USPO is, this is inexcusable. Patents are supposed to be novel (i.e., not obvious) and there is supposed to be no prior art. This Netflix patent quite obvious violates both of these (it's obvious, and I'm sure someone has done it before with video tapes). And anyone with two brain cells to rub together would know it in about 30 seconds if they thought about it.

Frankly I think we could solve 90% of patent problems if the damn patent office would enforce the "no obvious patents" rule. :P


Okay, RE: Dead Aim wrap-up review...

Pretty much of the same mind as I was before. The only thing I think of as different now is the dodge move. It took me until the battle with Morpheus to master it. I thought it was useless, but actually it appears to be quite useful, maybe even too powerful.

Everyone says Morpheus was a bitch, but I beat him third time, and only used two tablets doing it. The trick for me was the same as the trick with the frog hunters - wait for him to dodge first, then quickly fire. That and mastering the dodge move.

What do I think overall? I like this game, and it's fun, but not worth $40. When it drops to $20, buy it and try it. I think the UI concept is quite good in theory, though again I still don't necessarily like the way they implemented the controls. Devil May Cry style control would have been better, and then they could have taken out the dodge move. They also should have remembered that L3 exists, it would have been very useful. (L3 is the button you're pressing when you press the left joystick axially into the controller.)

Last thing - when you polish off Morpheus's second form, watch in the FMV as the bullet comes out of Bruce's gun. Notice that the back half is deformed into a hexagonal cross section. As it so happens, this is very accurate, because the gun Bruce is holding is a Desert Eagle, which is unique for (among other things) having a hexagonally rifled barrel, unlike normal spiral rifling.

I finished the game in 6:49 play time, about 15-20 hours over three sessions. But then I'm very thorough and careful. I think I killed every single zombie in the game, and almost all of the other creatures too. The only ones spared my full wrath were the glimmers - those guys were just too fast. I still think infinte handgun ammo is very nice, and not too unbalancing at all. Oh, I was terribly disappointed when the plasma rifle stopped working right after the Morpheus battle. I wanted to toast some zombies! Also contrary to my last review, you do get the assault rifle as Bruce, but quite close to the end. So enjoy it while you can!

RE: Dead Aim Q&A from the Straight Dope message board.

Just out of curiosity, don't the Resident Evil games have a nice "press run+back for automatic turn around" option?

I don't remember that in 1. Not sure about 2, possibly that did. I don't think this one does, as there is no "run" button - you run by default. There's a "walk" and a "walk-strafe" button, and these work as normal even when you're in first-person shooting mode. I'll check things out and post what I find. Quick turnaround would go a long way towards making the controls tolerable, for Tentacle Tyrant especially...

It looks like a fun game, but then again, I love all the other Resident Evil games.

You'll probably like this one, then. It really is very classic RE, except you actually have to aim and hit with the light gun!

What's the actual storyline, though?

I'm trying to think what's spoilers and what's not...

Letsee, Umbrella develops a new T-virus/G-virus hybrid. It builds a cruise liner (big ship) to show the resulting bioweapons off to prospective buyers. But one of their scientists(?)/agents(?), Morpheus T Duvall, goes renegade on them. He hijacks the ship and threatens to launch missles that will throw huge amounts of T-virus on (at least) the USA and China unless they pay him ONE BEELYON!! dollars.

You play as FBI(?) agent Bruce McGivern, a blonde, soft-spoken southerner who has chased Morpheus to the ship. The first cut scene in the game begins with Bruce confronting Morpheus on the ship's outer deck. Things are going badly for Bruce, when a young Chinese woman pokes her head over the railing of the next higher deck, and tosses a grenade! Bruce gets away unscatched, but Morpheus is significantly injured. You have to then track down Morpheus through the ship. As one might suspect, some T virus has gotten loose on the ship (doesn't it always?) and there are a lotta zombies around...

I'll stop there. There's more than that, but it the game would be less enjoyable if you knew everything that was coming.

How's that play out,

Like I said in my halfway review, I really like the ship setting. I found it both novel and atmospheric. There are also some less original settings in the game, but they're really not bad, just kind of familiar. The sneak and kill aspect of the game is fun, be sure to calibrate your GunCon2 very well. And aim for the head whenever reasonably possible!

Some people have said that they think the game was kind of rushed. I can see it, I suppose. There are some places where the play seems more monotonous than interesting due to lack of original or interesting enemies. (The sewers come to mind...) And there's one cutscene at one of the several helipads in the game where you're just fast-forwarded to the next area, when you probably should have been able to walk there yourself. Of course, the same technique is used in a much better way earlier on in the game, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much...

how are the cut scenes?

Graphically they're nice, though they definitely MPEG compressed them too much - they're kinda blurry in some places. The dialog is cheesy once in a while, but hey this is RE - part of the reason we play these games is to hear laughably cheesy dialog! I always had to turn the volume up for cut scenes, if I kept it up that high during normal play, the gunshots hurt my ears. That's what I get for sitting 4' from the screen. The subtitles don't match the real dialog very well at all, though I found it more amusing than distracting since I'm used to that kind of thing from shitty fansubs. You also have to specifically turn the subs on in order to see them, so no big deal. The voice acting is surprisingly good, and the voice cast all have unique voices and accents. Pretty enjoyable if you're a conniseur of that kind of thing, like I am from listening to anime dubs with a critical ear.

Character design and animation is pretty good on both Bruce and Fongling (she's the Chinese woman mentioned earlier). The zombies actually have shreds of personality too, though like most RE games this one re-uses the zombie character models quite a lot, so you end up potshotting at a lot of zombies with the same exact suit, for example. Weaponry is not terribly original, but it's original enough, and the first-person perspective and light-gun aiming lend it enough novelty to not be boring. As before, infinite handgun ammo takes out a lot of frustration and I think actually enhances the fun factor of the game without unbalancing it.

All in all, this game has a lot of potential, and I certanly had fun with it. I just wish the controls were a little less clunky for boss battles. I have a huge pet peeve with bad controls, probably because they're fairly common in many otherwise worthy games. I think poor control is either a sign of developer negligence, or a cheat so that the game designers don't have to make fun new challenges for the player. You have to use most of your reflexes and intelligence working around the bad controls trying to get your character to do what you want, instead of concentrating on playing the game.